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Petitions launched as St Raphael Estate neighbours question redevelopment or refurbishment

PUBLISHED: 10:15 10 April 2019

Crowds fill St Patrick's church hall to hear about the future of St Raphael's Estate. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Crowds fill St Patrick's church hall to hear about the future of St Raphael's Estate. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Archant

Neighbours crowded into a pair of lively meetings to better understand the plans for their Stonebridge estate - which could be flattened and rebuilt.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council leader with John Wood, St Raphael's Estate tenant demanding community representation. Picture: Nathalie RaffrayCllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council leader with John Wood, St Raphael's Estate tenant demanding community representation. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Tenant John Wood held two meetings in St Patrick’s church hall, off Drury Way, on Monday evening as he was “not satisfied with the community consultation process” led by Brent.

He also launched two petitions – one calling for refurbishment and the other demanding that the council recognises an official “residents’ community group”.

St Raphael’s Estate, which straddles Stonebridge and Neasden with 1,100 homes, is the first in the borough where neighbours are being balloted to decide its fate.

They can opt for “refurbishment”, where homes are built around them, or “regeneration” – where the estate is knocked down and redeveloped. Attendees were invited to voice their opinions but had only questions – about their homes, tenancies and the impacts on young and old people.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council leader with John Wood, St Raphael's Estate tenant. Picture: Nathalie RaffrayCllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council leader with John Wood, St Raphael's Estate tenant. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt was on hand to throw light on the project, but inflamed the group by insisting “there are no plans” and urging members to attend a council-run meeting the following day for “information”.

Mr Wood said: “We are dismayed by the borough’s ill-thought out processes of listening and communicating. [...] Given this major project impacts our whole community, we want to be equal partners, trusted and involved.”

He claimed the council’s drop-in sessions were a “let-down” and there was an “unwillingness to allow the community to take joint ownership” of the process.

A show of hands by neighbours showed most fearful of the future, after Cllr Butt said it was “hard to tell” how people felt.

The council has appointed independent advisor Public Participation Consultation and Research to “represent residents”. Cllr Butt told both groups: “We have the independent advisor. [...] Let us know what your issues and concerns are.”

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